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SHUN AD PUNS
Puns/Wordplays never work unless they’re 100% dead-on perfect which, 99% of the time, they ain't.
And by dead-on perfect, I mean wordplays like the ones in the brilliant “white-out-of-red” Economist campaign started in 1988 by London ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers:
I’ve never written a wrap-up post about terrible ad puns. Therefore, I dove into the sewage-filled waters of my archives and resurfaced, gasping, grasping these shit-awful advertising word-plays.
(snapped in Soho, NYC) A real head exploder. Tea for models? The Model T? T-Model? Former Model Tea Leoni?
Budweiser American Ale
(scanned from Time Out NY magazine) In January 2009, Bud “hopped” on the Obama exploitation ad bandwagon with this CRINGE made-up word headline.
Foot Pedals shoes
(scanned from WWD magazine)
SHOE-ICIDE. OUCH. Body Copy: “For those of us who have a love/hate relationship with our sexy shoes”. Admittedly, the S&M bungee-jumping shoe fetish image does leave me quite erect.
Cole—the worst copywriter in advertising history—has always proudly written his own terrible puny ads. L—(snapped in Soho, NYC) Here, he steals a well-known anti-war protest line to sell his fucking men’s boots. R—(scanned from Details magazine) “WE’RE ALL POTENTIAL CARRIERS” Because Cole was involved with the AIDS cause, he apparently believed he could exploit that connection to sell his merchandise, including handbags. Terrible pun. Despicable ad.
BEWARE: WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION. Note how Kenny’s ace art director placed a white “I” and “A” over the “E” and “U” in DESTRUCTION. Also note the blood stains. All this to sell sunglasses. Edgy.
Legal & General
In 2019, Legal & General, a 180-year-old UK-based financial services company, launched an investment product called GIRL Fund “which empowers all of us to use our money to help improve gender diversity in the UK.” Good cause? Terrible headline. And the childish finger paint font doesn’t help any.
What probably happened here was the copywriter came up with the line after about 30 seconds of thought — ‘hey, it’s got the words GIRL and FUNDS in it!’ The over-extended creative director, recognizing something the unsavvy client would buy INSTANTLY, approved it and stopped all other work on the account…which leaves us with this: a pun that insults women, girls, all humans. Agency: M&C Saatchi, London.
Washington Mutual Bank
(snapped in NYC, 2007) AWW, chick-chicks. What does the stupid pun mean? Who cares. Chickys! WaMu completely collapsed financially about a year later. Maybe this billboard contributed to their downfall.